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Government action needed on trans-Tasman standards

19 August, 2003

NZ Construction Industry Council

Urgent Government action needed on trans-Tasman industry standards

Government intervention to prevent a breakdown in the development of joint building industry standards for the New Zealand and Australian markets was called for today by the Construction Industry Council.

Council Chairman John Pfahlert, said the Active Co-operation Agreement between the standards organisations of the two countries was due to lapse at the end of September.

“The Australians gave notice some months ago of their intention to withdraw from the agreement, and an extension until the end of September was agreed. But there is little sign of agreement on future co-operation to enable continued development of joint standards beyond that time - in spite of negotiations having taken place.

“It will be potentially disastrous for many of our exporters if there is not standards harmonisation between the two countries,” he said. “Differing standards can lead to trade disputes and send compliance costs sky rocketing if the two countries are operating different sets of standard requirements. A recent Council survey within the construction industry demonstrated that joint standards with Australia were in common use in New Zealand and their continued development was strongly supported.

“The construction industry and related supply industries are hugely affected. The flow through to other sectors of the New Zealand economy will be significant. It has to be remembered also that Australian traders exporting here would suffer similar problems.

“It is vital that the two governments get more focussed on this issue and urgently co-ordinate a settlement between Standards New Zealand and the Australian company that operates standards setting in Australia. Time is running out. Industry can’t afford a break down in current arrangements.”

New Zealand companies and trade groups work with Australian counterparts in association with the two countries standards organisations to harmonise standards for both countries. Costs are paid by participating companies. A greater share of the workload would increase costs to New Zealand businesses.

Mr Pfahlert said that if New Zealand has to fully fund the development of all building sector standards without Australian participation then the cost to the government will increase significantly.


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